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04 November 2005 @ 05:54 pm
Chips ahoy  
For some reason I feel the urge to build a balanced-ternary computer. Sadly, I do not have the circuit-design skills necessary. Still, it's fun to think about.

Despite the title of this entry, there would most likely be no chips involved. It's not like anybody manufactures integrated circuits for balanced ternary, so it'd have to use discrete transistors.
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Thalass T'Kynnthalass on November 5th, 2005 03:05 am (UTC)
So what is this "balanced-ternary" thing?
gwalla: king crimson fingergwalla on November 5th, 2005 03:59 am (UTC)
Ternary, also called trinary, is numeric system with three values per digit, as opposed to binary, which has two values per digit (1 and 0). Usually ternary means the values are 0,1, and 2 (similar to other bases); in balanced ternary the values are -1, 0, and 1. It can also be thought of as equivalent to a tri-valued logic (true, false, and unknown), in the same way that binary is equivalent to boolean logic.

A couple of early Soviet computers used it, but it hasn't really been messed with since. Probably because logic gates are more complicated to construct.
Deathstalkerdeathstalkeriam on November 5th, 2005 06:20 am (UTC)
Not to mention thinking about it causes even more "Oh god oh god my brain" moments than even binary. ;)
(Deleted comment)
gwalla: king crimson fingergwalla on November 5th, 2005 07:38 am (UTC)
I wouldn't say they're on the verge of prototype. They've found a way to slow down photons on a chip, but they're not at a point where it's practical (it requires chip printing at a level of precision that they can just barely accomplish; slowing photons requires heating, which is far too slow to be usable for switching)

I agree that ternary is a dead end. But really, scratch-building a processor isn't really about practicality.